Monday, December 20, 2010

Temporary Solution

Does anyone else have trouble with sibling bickering?  Please tell me it's not just me.  Please!  Here at The Tea Party Place we have two children who love nothing more right now than a good game of "Uh huh, nuh uh, yes sir, no sir."  It's not so much fun for me.

I've tried various tactics to get it to stop; they haven't worked to a great degree.

But today...I may have landed on a solution.  Well, at least for a week.

Having been out of school for officially 1 hour and 47 minutes this morning, they were already testing my patience.  "Alright!  New rule.  Ready?  Here it is:  If I hear any bickering--any at all--you get one warning.  If it continues, you will each have to go downstairs and pick one present from under the tree to give back to me?  Got it?"

"No!  Please, Mom.  Don't make that rule!"  And that was my first clue I was onto something good.

"Why are you already crying?  You haven't lost a present yet," I queried.

"Please, Mom..."

"Wait a second.  Who's in charge of whether or not you'll lose presents?  Not me!  You decide whether or not you'll fight and bicker.  So just don't do it and everything will be fine."

They walked away only slightly encouraged.

A few moments later I heard the beginnings of "Uh huh, nuh uh, yes sir, no sir" bubbling from the next room.  "That's a warning!" I cautioned.  And then?...

Blessed, peaceful, quiet.
Even as I write this, quiet.
I've never liked quiet so very much.

How long do you think it will last?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Entertainment Field Trip

This choir knows how to put on a show!  Check it out.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Caroling, Caroling, Now We Go

This is not how it went.

One of my new favorite holiday memories was created on Saturday night.  The choir I recently rejoined was having their annual Christmas party, and as per tradition a little caroling was involved.  Singers singing?  Weird, right?

Now this wasn't your average group of carolers.  These are some serious musicians, and I don't mean to brag, but I will say that if my doorbell rang, this would be a group I would wish was there to provide a little mini concert on my front porch.

Some people don't agree with me.

Like the teenager who made the mistake of answering the door.  Apparently, and much to his chagrin, no one else was home.  When we launched into "Hark the Herald Angels Sing," I could actually feel his discomfort.  He couldn't even meet our eyes.  I felt a little sorry for him through the first verse.  (Yes, we sang two.  As any singer will tell you the whole story is never in the first verse, discomfort be damned!)  But then as we headed into the second verse, and his whole body sighed, I began to notice his rolling eyes often lighting on what looked to be the reflection of a video game in the background.  Suddenly, his impatient toe tapping began to make sense.  What is caroling in the name of Jesus when compared to God of War III?  I mean, really?  I nearly couldn't finish the song for my fit of giggles.

Then, just a few houses later, we saw the homeowners in the garage, so we varied our routine of doorbell ringing and began singing upon arrival.  We only made it through "Joy to the world, the Lord is Come.  Let Earth re--" before the grinding closure of the door put a sudden stop to our musical offering.  Can you imagine the oddity of that situation?  20 singing people standing in your driveway and a slowly lowering metal door between?  I only wish I had had the nerve to rush forward and sing all the way to the ground.  Instead I threw my head back and belly laughed.  Someone else said, "I think it's time to go home."  Imagining the homeowners hearing it all, I could only continue to chortle.

Caroling may have become a lost tradition, I'm afraid.  But it's still the most fun I've had in a long time...though, perhaps for all the wrong reasons.

Monday, December 13, 2010

You're Invited: A Holiday Cyberspace Mingle

I wanted to throw a Christmas party and invite you all.  A little holiday mingle, if you will. 

Here how it's gonna' work.  Leave a comment about yourself here.  Include things like who you are, how we might know each other, something you are passionate about--whatever you want--and your blog link if you so desire.  Then click on someone else's link, check them out, and leave a comment saying you were there and wishing them a Merry Christmas.  Maybe we'll make some new friends and spread the Christmas cheer.

If you were at my home I'd make you wassail and something delectable to eat, but since we are across computer screens I will just send a (((hug))), thank you for adding a bit more happiness to my life, and wish you a very Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Serindipity

What is it called when two random components intersect to make circumstances better?  Serindipity?  Well, whatever it is called, that is what I am enjoying this Christmas.  Let me explain.

A number of weeks ago, we watched our friends' exotic bird, Dexter, while they vacationed over fall break.  Dexter pecked me on the face within the first hour.  Hard.  After that I refused to go near him.  The bird only loved Mr. Wicke (who can blame him really?) and spent most of the time when he was at home happily perched on his shoulder.  I called him Long John Silver. 

The bird did, however, finally surrender to Griffin's overzealous care.  Kind of like Lenny from Mice and Men, Griffin can express his love for animals in a none-too-gentle manner, but as the bloody peck mark on my cheek proved, the bird was not defenseless.  At the beginning of the week when Griffin complained, "Ow!  The bird pecked me!"  I would say, "Well, put it in it's cage and leave him alone then!  Stop messing with him!"  But Griffin could not be convinced in anyway to ignore such a fascination.  All week long, almost every hour of every day, Griffin manhandled the bird.  By the end of the week, Griffin had loved him into submission.  Dexter would render himself to Griffin's hands, quite sure, I think, that any disquietude would merely prolong the torture.

But his rendering did not apply to the rest of the family, especially to our toddler, who, like me in the beginning, was a bit fascinated with his beautifully colored feathers.  One bite to the finger took care of that, and for the rest of the week, Lincoln distanced himself from the bird.

Now, fast forward to Christmas. (Trust me, this is going to come together.)  I was sure that our tree would be demolished this year.  Sparkly glass balls and a 21 month old have no business being in the same room.  And as the rest of us decorated our fruit, berry, and bird themed tree after we put him to bed, I couldn't help but wonder how I was going to keep Lincoln out of it in the morning.

When he awoke and we brought him downstairs, he certainly was fascinated with the wonderful beauty of the thing, but after 4 days, he continues to maintain his distance.  Staying at least a foot away, he merely squeals with delight, "Birdy!  Birdy!  Tweet, tweet, tweet!"  He has yet to lay a finger on it. 

Thanks to Dexter, the birds are standing guard this Christmas.  I only hope it takes him longer than three weeks to realize they are not really alive.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

She is a Reader

Would you mind too awfully much if I bragged just a little.  Not about me.  No.  But about my daughter?  Because I'm super proud today.

This morning as I was making her bed (and yes, I still make her bed because it's a twin pushed up against the wall and it is really hard to make with her shorter arms) ANYWAY, as I was making her bed, I glanced at the bedside table and it hit me.  You know what was stacked there?  Books.  Generally books that we read together.  Generally books that I guide her toward, but not anymore.  She has built a stack of books on her own that will take us some time to get through.  And not just any books.  Here are the titles:  Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Hamlet, Anne of Green Gables, and Gulliver's Travels.  I had to sit down.

And as I did so, I thought of her backpack this morning, loaded with three more books:  The Moffats, Marley--A Dog Like No Other, and Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief.  She is in the middle of all three of them, despite my protestations that she finish The Moffats before starting the Lightening Thief (which she persuaded me to buy two nights ago.)  "But Mom," she argued.  "That's our newest book club book!"  Yes, she and her best friend have a book club.

She is a reader, I silently gushed as I picked up Gulliver's Travels and fondled the worn hardback cover.  How she came to choose that book I do not know.  I didn't put it in her hands.  I have never read Gulliver's Travels, but I have a fondness for good books and old bookstores, and sometimes I buy them because I'm like a greedy child who grabs more cookies than she can eat just because someone else will get them if she doesn't.  A classic book must have a home.  I have meant to read Gulliver's Travels, and it has been sitting on my shelf for some time, waiting.

There it was that Logan found it on her own one day and added it to her stack of books she wants to read.  A stack of more books than she has time for.

That is a good problem to have.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

On Becoming More Acquainted with Apple Juice

Yesterday, as I wrote that little blurb to post, I thought my baby Lincoln was quietly playing in the other room.  And he was...just with a 2 quart bottle of apple juice unbeknownst to me.  Do you know how sticky apple juice is?  I do.  It's really, really sticky.  So sticky, in fact, that you will have to mop at least three times and then once more just for good measure.

And of course you'll have to wash and wipe the counter at least that many times as well.

And then, when it drips into your drawers, you will have to remove all of the utensils, give them a good going over, wash the trays and mats, and thoroughly wash and wipe out the drawers.

And when it drains into your cupboards and pools in the center, you will have to pull all of the small cooking appliances out and give them a good washing, sop up all the excess and give the cupboards a good wipe down as well.

And then, you will have to do a load of laundry to wash the myriad of towels you have used to clean up the incredible mess that a 21 month old can make without making a sound.

That's a lot of sticky fun.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sounds of the Season

I say it every year:  "Christmas is eating my lunch!"  Every. stinkin'. year.  And here we are again.  You won't believe it (but you really might) but my tree is now up but not decorated.  We haven't started adventing yet.  Remember those Christmas cards?  Not out yet.  Nope.  The shopping is somewhere in the middle of completion. 

Here's what I've been doing instead.

See that person in the middle with her arms up?  That's me leading our primary children in song.  They sang three numbers for our church's Christmas party, and they were fantastic!

And I got to sing with these guys for their holiday concert because I rejoined this choir which means I get to sing really great music with really great people, and despite not having my tree decorated and my shopping not done and my cards still sitting on my counter, I have really felt the Christmas spirit.  There is nothing like singing "Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!  For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.  Hallelujah!  And He shall reign forever and ever!  King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Forever, and ever, and ever.  Hallelujah!" to joy in the Season of His birth, and watching children sing with their sweet innocence, "On this night a King is born in a cattle shed," to really feel what it means.

And last night, while we were singing Silent Night with the lush sound of a full symphony orchestra accompanying us, I looked out into the audience to see a man quietly weeping, tears just running down his face.  Immediately, I was reminded what it meant, personally, that our Savior did come on a silent night, most holy night.  And then my heart rose up in a simple prayer, "Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you."

And now...for your listening pleasure....

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ready to Order?

I woke up today with the realization that it is December 1st.  I'm not ready.  I say that every year, despite the fact that every year I really try to get ready.  This year, as you may recall, I even ordered my Christmas cards early.  But they are not done yet.  This year, I even started shopping earlier.  It doesn't mean I'm any closer to being finished.  In fact, I have not yet even decided if we are going to give Logan and Griffin the cornsnake and tortoise, upon which decision the pattern of Christmas shopping depends.

However, I am glad I started earlier this year because if I hadn't I'd really be in the weeds.  Just to make myself crazy, I took on two enormous projects: Writing and editing a family cookbook for the holidays and repainting my kitchen and family room.  Finally I got rid of that gold paint that has been really bugging me.  I spent Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving painting my guts out while Mr. Wicke entertained the kiddos.  I'm not sure about the timing of the whole effort, but I did it, and I love the new color.

Now if I could only get my house back in order and feel ready for Dec. 1st.